Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pearse Museum

To go along with my visit to Kilmainham Gaol last week, I also trekked to the wilds of Rathfarnham to visit the Pearse Museum.  It's also run by the OPW and is completely free to visit.  It's usually open on Culture Night, if you are out that way.  Important note: it is randomly closed on Tuesdays.

On the day we visited, the weather was not behaving, so having parked on the Grange Road, we had a short, wet walk through St Enda's Park to get to the house.  I imagine it is beautiful to walk through when not raining.  On this particular day, we had the park and house to ourselves.

Íosagáin by Lady Glenavy
The house is of Georgian construction, then known as the Hermitage, and Padraig Pearse, together with his brother Willie, took over the lease in 1910, housing their school for boys here.  It was too wet to be taking photos outside but look here at the Wikipedia link for a good outside shot.  The tour starts with a 20 minute video on the history of St Enda's and the Pearse family.  I would have liked a little more about the history of the house before the Pearse involvement.  Apparently Robert Emmet (failed rebel and also an inmate of Kilmainham Gaol) courted Sarah Curran here.  Pearse was an admirer of Emmet (shocker!) and this played some part in his decision to locate the school here.

 The house has a lovely Arts and Crafts feel.  It's full of paintings and sculptures, by both Willie Pearse and others.  The rooms are still laid out as classrooms and studies.  Of particular note is the large room used to put on plays, with small chapel to the side.  You can view the house self-guided or with a tour guide.  We opted for the former, and there's plenty of information panels on pupils and teachers of note to help you along the way.

After the Rising, the school continued to operate under the guidance of the Pearses' mother and sister, both called Margaret until 1935.  They were also active politically, both women serving as TDs and later as Senators.

There has been some modernisation of the house - adding an additional staircase and some office space on the top floor, but it has been done quite sympathetically.  The house was bequeathed by Senator Margaret Pearse to the State in 1968. 


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